This is a guest post by Dave James, a keen archer and founder of targetcrazy.com. As well as being very keen on shooting sports, Dave is passionate about improving ones cognitive abilities through sport. As we value techniques that help us ignore the small stuff (including errands like shirt shopping) in favour of what matters, we thought we’d share Dave’s ideas on the subject.
Work can be frustrating. The average working day is full of distractions.
How you’re supposed to get anything actually done these days in a modern office or worse when you’re working from home, is anybody’s guess.
Meetings and social interactions, phone calls and BBC Sport leave you with very little time to actually get your head down.
One of the main reasons you can find yourself under pressure in the modern workplace is the inability to shut out everything that’s unimportant and truly focus.
Not being able to remove distractions from your thinking is one common reason I think many people in the busy world of today begin to feel down. From this they can spiral into stress and other forms of mental illness.
All is not lost. As well as simple steps you can take to limit the demands on your time (I’d be remiss not suggest buying your shirts via subscription) there are techniques you can learn to solve these issues. There are thought patterns and habits that can help you to be more productive and successful.
Participating in sports (specifically high concentration sports) is one such way to learn them.
Why high concentration sports?
Learning techniques to concentrate intensely for short periods of time is fundamental to sporting success and high concentration sports can be an excellent mechanism to help you learn to focus.
The demand for concentration varies with the sport and is divided into three types:
- Sustained concentration – relevant to sports with an endurance element such as long distance running, cycling marathons or tennis matches
- Short burst concentration – evident in golf and cricket and short sprint field events
- Intense concentration – sprinting, bobsleigh, target archery, darts, skeet or clay shooting
The type of concentration required in the office is usually intense and short lived and suits exactly what the mind needs to do when participating in sports like archery or target shooting.
This is because the amount of focus required in these sports ties the brain into concentrating on the here and now.
Focusing on the here and now and forgetting your negative emotions is key to sporting success, success at work and getting stuff done.
Techniques used by successful athletes in high concentration sports, can have a positive effect on almost anyone.
Archery for example is a target sport that requires high levels of intense concentration and mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a heightened state of self-awareness, a way of slowing down the moment and focusing only on that point in time, developing deep levels of consciousness, of how the body feels. It displaces the constant jumble of thoughts and emotions in our heads.
Becoming more aware of immediate physical sensations and our environment allows us to understand and process our mental traffic; it’s not about changing it. but rather the ability to disassociate ourselves from it and see it for what it is.
Sometimes you need to shut everything out and be able to concentrate on what’s in front of you whenever and wherever you are.
That’s a skill that you also need when taking part in high concentration sports like Archery and target shooting.Practising that skill in a sporting environment will help it become a key part of your working environment.
Focus isn’t all…
Did I mention that there are other benefits to sporting participation, high concentration or otherwise that can also have direct effects on your persona at work?
Practising high concentration sports can give rise to and develop many other faculties and emotions which are all useful for the workplace.
- Reduced levels of stress and depression
- A sharper mind and memory – competing sharpens the memory and the mind
- A lessening of anxiety
- Increasing brain capacity and power including problem solving skills
- Fun and enjoyment
- Healthy competition
- Co-operation, teamwork and leadership skills
Not to mention that sports (even target sports) burn calories! You can burn 144 calories per hour target shooting.
Next time you think about improving yourself and your career, think about taking up a sport. You don’t have to play chess and do puzzles to train your brain, and you don’t have to get onto the soccer pitch to train your body. There are sports like archery, shooting and even darts that offer a great middle ground.
Give one a go!